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Too late to talk consumer trends 2020, let’s think 2030

Our new consumer trends report is now live. This time, we’re going beyond consumer trends in 2020 and taking a voyage of discovery toward 2030. The reason? Because over the next decade we expect to see a huge paradigm shift. As we move deeper into an internet of senses, the line between digital world and real world will truly fade.

Head of Research Agenda and Quality at Consumer & IndustryLab

Magic globe

Head of Research Agenda and Quality at Consumer & IndustryLab

Head of Research Agenda and Quality at Consumer & IndustryLab

Back in the early 2000s when I said we’ll mainly use our phones to access the internet in the future, nearly everyone laughed at me, saying that the screen was too small and you couldn’t type on a phone. I should stop being ridiculous, they said. The whole thing with a paradigm shift is that it is almost impossible to imagine it before it happens, and then almost impossible to imagine leaving afterwards.

I think the internet of senses is that next huge shift. 

Thinking beyond consumer trends 2020

We explore this new paradigm in our latest 10 Hot Consumer Trends 2030 report. But does that mean we won’t be focusing on the consumer trends for 2020?

I am sure that you have already been exposed to lots of articles that try to summarize various aspects of the 2010s – the decade we are leaving – as well as plenty of stuff about trends for 2020. That’s great, but technology moves fast, and we need to be prepared for it.

Our past eight iterations of the annual 10 Hot Consumer Trends report have taken a short to mid-term future perspective, ranging from breaking trends to predicting new ones up to five years into the future.

But it wasn’t us who selected that range. Our trend reports are based purely on consumer surveys, and when asked to judge when a certain technology will go mainstream, people’s answers typically range between now and sometime in the next five years.

That’s why, this time round, we decided to encourage our survey respondents to look further afield, asking them what they think life will look like in 2030.

AR glasses alone won’t drive a technological paradigm shift

One technology that everyone seems to have already taken for granted is AR glasses. We’ve seen consumer expectations around AR glasses in a number of previous ConsumerLab reports, and rumors about the impending mass market introduction of such devices are all over the place. Recently, there were reports about Apple’s project in this field, predicting the launch of an AR headset in 2022 and proper AR glasses in 2023. Even more recently, was the announcement that Qualcomm teamed up with Pokémon Go developer Niantic to their develop their own AR glasses.

But, if you think you’ll be able to simply rest your Pokémon Go or Minecraft Earth game on your nose by then, think again. Consider how much you actually touch, swipe and tap when you’re playing games today. If you move the screen to right in front of your eyes, you’ll probably poke them out.

Will you control your AR glasses with a voice interface instead? Picture a crowd of AR glasses wearers getting off a train, and everyone shouting out different locations to their map application at the same time. What a mess that would be. Not happening!

In order for AR glasses to be the new iconic device that many are counting on, they’ll need to have an interface that is fundamentally different from what we have today and not just represent a linear progression.

If all passengers coming off the train would ‘think’ their locations instead, there would be no ensuing chaos; or maybe they have armbands that can interpret minute muscle movements so they can control their glasses with unobtrusive hand movements. Given that such technologies are starting to appear, we could be right on the brink of a huge shift.

A new age is dawning: The internet of senses

Consumers – at least those who are early tech adopters – believe that by 2030 we’ll have an internet of senses, and their predictions haven’t been pulled out of thin air. As part of the strategic technology outlook conducted by Ericsson Research, we identified a number of technological forces that will have profound combinatorial effects on society going forward.

The internet of senses is one such combinatorial effect that we found. From a concrete technical perspective, we see that advancing tech has the potential to enable a full internet of senses, adding touch, taste, sound and vision to our digital experience as soon as 2025, and maybe even the ability to digitally communicate via our thoughts by 2030.

The technology, in some form, will be there. What we do with it is not set in stone, but the more people that engage in public dialogue, the better.

Do we know this will definitely happen in 2030? Of course, we don’t. And there’s also a chance it may never happen, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to plot our future. And in doing so, it also helps us better understand the direction of the 2020 trends everyone else is talking about!

Read more

Download the full 10 Hot Consumer Trends 2030 report for more future trends.

Browse our other ConsumerLab reports, where we take a look at zero touch shopping, future social media and much more.

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